Why Australia could have the advantage in the World Test Championship final
Two staunch rivals in India and Australia will compete in the prestigious World Test championship final at The Oval next month.As it should be, this is a hard match to predict. That’s mainly because of injury concerns and neither team having played a Test since completing a hard-fought series earlier this year. To make matters even more difficult, many of the players involved have only competed in the IPL in the lead-up to the one-off Test.
While this may not seem to be the ideal preparation, it’s worth recalling the opinion of former England batter Ravi Bopara. In 2009, Bopara went from the fledgling IPL into a Test series against West Indies and reckoned he was ideally prepared because T20 got his feet moving and put him in a positive frame of mind.
Heft was given to that view because Bopara reeled off successive Test centuries. The modern cricketer regularly has to adapt, going from one format to another, so Bopara’s theory should be even more applicable.
Therefore expect the players, especially the batters, to be ready for the Test. It’s up to the bowlers to prepare specifically for the longer spells required in the five-day format.
If Australia’s classy pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are available, that makes them slight favourites. They are good bowlers any time, but England in early June should be right up their alley. Nevertheless, an Indian pace attack containing Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav is also strong and only just behind the Australian trio in wicket-taking capability.
Mental strength will play a huge part in this Test. The team that displays the most resilience is likely to win as long as the contest is not unduly affected by bad weather. Being able to maintain a decent line and length under attack is now mandatory in the tougher series, and a fully fit Australian attack should benefit if the opposition are overzealous.
Therefore much will depend on how the batters treat the talented opposing pace attacks. Australia rely heavily on Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja’s big scoring ability but the enigmatic David Warner shouldn’t be overlooked. Despite his struggles in England, Warner is a dangerous player because he can score quickly. If he gets a start, India need to be wary because of the danger Warner presents.
On the Indian side Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara are a handful because they have enjoyed success in Test cricket. Their job will be tough against a strong Australian attack.
The Australian bowlers also need to pay careful attention to Shubman Gill. He tends to play with no fear and has a stroke-making mentality, which will not change even on this momentous occasion. If he is allowed the freedom to score quickly and hit boundaries, Gill will be a headache for Australia.
One selection dilemma for India will be Ajinkya Rahane. Judging by the current squad, Rahane is likely to play, which means he will largely be relying on past form against Australia. If he plays, he will help in the slips to the spinners, as he is easily India’s best catcher in that position.
India have an advantage in spin bowling because of Ravindra Jadeja’s ability to bat in the top six, which allows them the luxury of including the efficient R Ashwin. While Nathan Lyon is a good bowler, he will be Australia’s sole spinner. However, this shouldn’t be detrimental in England, as allrounder Cameron Green’s genuine pace is well suited to the conditions.
The injuries to Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant badly affect India, as they would be outright favourites with these two playing. The somewhat surprising unavailability of allrounder Hardik Pandya also harms India, as he could have provided them with the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
With the match being played under English conditions, this slightly favours the strong Australian pace attack. However, as Bopara showed, you should never underestimate the value of IPL preparation for batters.
Australia and India set for showdown at The Oval
Australia and India will meet at the Oval on Wednesday (07) for the ICC World Test Championship 2023.
The winners of the World Test Championship final will receive £1.29m in prize money and the losers £644,000.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, KS Bharat, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadakt, Umesh Yadav.
First sprinter to run 100m in under 10 seconds dies
US sprinter Jim Hines, the first man to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, has died at the age of 76.
He broke the record in 1968 when he recorded a hand-timed 9.9 seconds at the US Championships. Hines then broke his own record shortly after while winning gold at the 1968 Olympics, where an electronic timer in Mexico City recorded him at 9.95. His record held for nearly 15 years until Calvin Smith ran a time of 9.93 in 1983.
That is the longest length of time an athlete has held the record for the men’s 100m since the International Amateur Athletic Foundation began keeping track – 110 years ago.
His death was announced in a statement by World Athletics. The organisation said it is “deeply saddened” by the news. Both the Olympics and USA Track and Field shared tributes to Hines on Twitter. “The sport has lost a legend,” USA Track and Field said.
Hines was born in the state of Arkansas in 1946 but was raised in Oakland, California.
He had an early love of sport, namely baseball, but showed a real talent for sprinting as a teenager. He attended Texas Southern University where he ran for the Tigers track team before competing in national championships and the Olympics.
In addition to winning the 100m at the Mexico Olympics, he was also part of the US 4x100m relay team which won a gold.
He ended his sprinting career shortly after the Olympics and joined the NFL. He spent three years in the league, playing for the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Silverwood promises to address dot ball issue
Leading up to the World Cup Qualifiers starting in less than two weeks’ time in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood promised to address the team’s dot-ball woes.
In the first ODI against Afghanistan which the hosts lost by six wickets here on Friday, there were 158 dot balls with the batters struggling to rotate the strike. That is a huge amount coming up to more than 25 overs. Although the number was cut down to 128 in the second game, Sri Lanka would like to do better than that.
“The dot ball issue is something that we are addressing. A lot of people are talking about it I know. We need to rotate the strike better and put the pressure back on the bowlers. The boundary percentage went up in the last game. Getting a balance between the two will help us to score above 300,” Silverwood told journalists.
Silverwood, the former England Head Coach, also welcomed the return of seniors Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne back into the side bringing more stability to the batting unit. Mathews was left out for game two, but that appears to be part of the team’s strategy to give everyone in the squad a go.
“Angelo was brought into the squad to boost the batting lineup and bring confidence into the side. He has experience of playing big matches. The fact is we must prepare the whole squad to cover ourselves to face any situation.
“Dimuth is making a comeback into the ODI side and he played superbly. He had a good Test series against Ireland. His tempo is very good. He gave us something to build on. The openers added 80 plus for the first wicket. Every partnership after that was scored at less than run a ball. It shows what we can do when we have a good start,” noted Silverwood.
Dhananjaya de Silva came up with a match-winning effort in the second game bowling his off-spin so well picking up three wickets that included the prize scalp of Ibrahim Zadran and earlier his less than run a ball 29 had helped Sri Lanka to a match-winning total of 323 for six.
“Dhananjaya is at six and has to adapt to situations whether it be setting a target or chasing one. The first game he played a superb inning. Today we saw him capitalizing after we had a great start. He kept the momentum going. Obviously scored quickly which is exactly what we need to get over 300. We want to keep pushing the barriers. When it comes to his bowling, he has been threatening to do it for a while.”
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